February 5, 2012

The 2-minute Orphée

Is it wrong to poke fun at a great opera?  Well, if that's wrong, I don't wanna be right!  It's time wreak havoc on Philip Glass's Orphée.


CAST OF CHARACTERS
Orphée, a poet who's a little past it.
Poet, another poet, which makes sense, considering his name.  Logical career path.  It'd be different if his name was "Pizza chef".
Cegeste, an up-and-coming poet, making this the only 3-poet opera in the repertoire.  Woo-hoo!
Eurydice, Orphée's wife.  She's preggers; got a poet in the oven, which means we very nearly had a quadruple-poet opera goin' on here.  Shucks - one more scene would've done it!
Princess, a.k.a. Death Itself.  And a real stunner with great legs.
Rod Serling, doing one of his inimitably creepy voice-overs.
Sam Waterston, appearing in his signature role as D.A. Jack McCoy.

Scene 1: a cafe in Paris. Orphée is sitting with Poet. Princess, a.k.a. Death Itself, is helping a very drunk Cegeste across the street.


PRINCESS
This is what I hate about poets: half a beer and you're bombed.

CEGESTE
You weel not spick to moi like zees or I weel KEEL you, Nescafe?

PRINCESS
First of all, you can't kill Death, moron.  Second, I think you mean "n'est ces pas", not "Nescafe".  Oh, and also: dude, that's the worst French accent I've ever heard in my life - er, death.  What're you, a Pink Panther reject?

CEGESTE
Oh, lay off.  I'm from Baltimore originally, and I just got hired for this role.  I'm doing the best I can under very trying circumstances, cut me some slack.

PRINCESS
Whatever.  (Suddenly two motorcycles appear out of nowhere and run down Cegeste in the street.  He's extremely dead.)


CEGESTE
Hey!  I was told this was a principal role!  I'm dead after three lines?  What the heck??

PRINCESS (to Orphée, who's standing around not writing poetry and feeling a little sorry for himself.)
YO!  Rhyme-boy!  Yes, you!  Get your Orphic butt over here and help me with the dead dude.

ORPHÉE
Why would I want to do that?  I have no idea who you are, who he is, or what's happening.

PRINCESS
Your name is Orphée.  The title of the show is Orphée.  Work with me here.

ORPHÉE
Fine.  Hey, you know what they could have called this opera?  "Dead Poet's Society".  Like the movie, right?  HA HA HA HA HA HA!!

PRINCESS
You're a riot.  Shut up.

Scene 2: an eerie chalet out in the middle of nowhere.  Princess, Orphée and "Dead Cegeste", who's beginning to smell a little ripe, are standing around.  Well, not Cegeste - he's on the floor like a proper corpse.


ROD SERLING
A has-been poet and a babe with a shroud and a scythe, on a long limousine journey into....  "The Twilight Zone"  (That "Twilight Zone" music, - you know, that "doo-doo-doo-doo" thing you do when something weird happens - starts cranking out from somewhere.)


PRINCESS
This is an opera, not a freaking TV show - cut the music!!

ROD SERLING
Sorry.

ORPHÉE
Can we get on with it, please?  It's already scene two and I haven't sung an aria yet.

ROD SERLING
Aria?! Have you had a chance to look through the music?  You don't actually have an aria in this opera.  There aren't any arias.  Just, you know, dialogue.

ORPHÉE
Are you freaking kidding me?  No arias?  Well, CRAP.  You know, I turned down a production of Faust to be in this show.  Geez, this is gonna be a longgggg evening.

PRINCESS
Cheer up - some of the special effects are cool; dig this.  YO, Cegeste, ARISE!  (Cegeste stands up and looks around.)


CEGESTE
Yay!  More lines!

ORPHÉE
How long til the special effect?

PRINCESS
That was it.  C'mon, that was cool! I brought a dead guy back to life.

ORPHÉE
Yeah, he stood up.  Breath-taking.  Again, this'll be a long night.  Anyway, he's alive, huh?

PRINCESS
No, not really.  He's still dead as a doornail.  Just, you know, standing up and talking.  A talking dead guy.

ORPHÉE
Ooo, like in Twilight?  Is this a vampire opera?  Can I be Edward?

PRINCESS
Wrong movie.  I'd love to stick around and talk, but I've got to deliver this puppy to Hell.  Ciao.

Scene 3: Orphée's house.  He and his lovely wife Eurydice are sittin' around.

ORPHÉE
Cupcake?

EURYDICE
Yes, Sugar-lips?

ORPHÉE
How do you pronounce your name, anyway?  Is it "You-RID-i-see", or "Yurr-i-DEE-chay" or
"Yurr-i-DEESE", or what?

EURYDICE
Let's just go with "Cupcake".

ORPHÉE
Cool.

EURYDICE
Is this where we sing a love duet?

ORPHÉE
Meh.  Maybe later.

EURYDICE
Pfft.  (Suddenly, she dies, then stands up, talks to the Princess, walks through a mirror and goes straight to Hades.)

ORPHÉE
Oy - such a DAY I'm having!  But that special effect is starting to grow on me, I have to admit.  Dead person standing up... creepy!

PRINCESS
Told you.

Scene 4.  Hades.  The Next World.  The Hereafter.  Limbo.  Kind of like the Greyhound station in Richmond, Virginia if you've ever been stuck there waiting for a bus.

JUDGE
We will now hear testimony from the first witness.  Princess, you're up.

SAM WATERSTON, APPEARING AS JACK McCOY.
Objection, your Honor!

JUDGE
Say what?  What do you think you're doing here?

SAM WATERSTON, APPEARING AS JACK McCOY.
My show got cancelled and I've got a little free time.  This seems to be some kind of trial or something and I could use the gig.  Who are we prosecuting?

JUDGE
Scram.

Scene 5.  Still "down there".  The cast is waiting for the Judge to tell the verdict.

EURYDICE (to Orphée)
We've got a few minutes.  Any chance you wanna work in a love duet about now?

ORPHÉE
I've got a headache.  And I'm busy.  See you.

EURYDICE
Where are you going, my heart's desire, my own true love, my dearest dear?

ORPHÉE
Going to suck face with the Princess.  Have you seen her?  She's totally HOT!  I mean, you know, for being Death Itself...

EURYDICE
If we make it back to the living world, you are so sleeping on the couch.  What a tool.

(Next-to-last scene.  Yeah, we skipped a few scenes - it was running a bit long.  Anyway, we're back at Orphée's house.  He's already broken the Big Rule about "not looking at Eurydice" and thus sent her packing back to the Richmond Greyhound station.  You know, Hell.)

ORPHÉE
OMG!  That angry crowd outside, convinced that I killed Cegeste, just shot me!  I'm dead!!  (He falls to the floor, then stands up.)  Okay, I've changed my mind: this is a totally SICK special effect!  It's, like, RAD, dude!  I just creeped myself out!!  Look:  I stood up!!  Whoaaaa!

(Last scene.  Hell, etc.)

PRINCESS (to Orphée)
Come here, you big hunk of dead human, you!  Give Mama a big ol' kiss!

ORPHÉE
Although I'm really hot for you, Death Itself, I am a little concerned about this attraction.  You reckon I can find a Necrophilia support group here in Hades?

PRINCESS
Totes.  After all, we're all dead down here.  It's a common problem.  But I've got tough news:  it's over.  We're breaking up - I'm sending you back to your wife Yurr-i-DEESE in the living world.

ORPHÉE
So THAT'S how you say it!!! 

THE END.

My new book The Opera Zoo: Singers, Composers and Other Primates is now available from Kendall Hunt Publishing. Order online at www.kendallhunt.com/operazoo or by phone from the Customer Service line at 1-800-344-9034 ext.3020.

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